It just wasn’t enough.
After four games and seven overtimes, the Syracuse Orange finally ran out of gas on Saturday night. It was an improbable stretch of games that ultimately fell just short, but one that no ‘Cuse fan will forget for some time. The unending UCONN game, watching them fight through West Virginia; it was an impressive showing that will help with the selection committee, but you can tell how badly they wanted that trophy.
I have always been a Syracuse fan, but the last few seasons have been even more interesting because of where I’m from. It’s been mentioned before, but I share my hometown with Paul Harris and Jonny Flynn: Niagara Falls, New York. It’s a place well known around the world and well ridiculed by many, even for the actions of a certain Syracuse star.
Still, I’ve never been prouder of my hometown than I was last night. As sports fans we talk about indescribable intangibles like heart all the time, but it’s very har to pinpoint just what we’re saying. What Syracuse tried to do at the Big East Tournament took just that: heart. Some people argue that a tournament like that doesn’t matter, that the NCAA Tourney is where it really counts. That last part may be true, but I didn’t see any signal that what we saw this week didn’t matter to those kids.
For the amount of minutes guys like Flynn, Devendorf, and Harris played their performances immediately go from great to spectacular. Flynn in particular was absurdly good, and I got dozens of text messages throughout the week praising just about every aspect of his game. His ball skills, his determination, and the way he ran the court was so impressive that you forget just how young he is.
He’s also by all accounts a great kid, and he deserves everything that will come his way. For a town that gets such a bad rap, it’s nice to see someone like Flynn having so much success; “doing it right” so to speak. One of the most important things about Jonny is that he’s not just a college basketball player but a top flight NBA prospect, and one that will adjust to the game and take the next logical step.
It’s just nice to see local kids making good on the opportunities they’ve been given, and that’s exactly what is going on a Syracuse. They may have lost the Big East Tourney, but they showed that this team can make some noise in the NCAA Tourney with an impressive performance that has turned a lot of heads. The great thing about that game is that, despite the loss, the best is yet to come for this team and those kids. Saturday night was not the end but rather the start of something very, very good.
On a night full of disappointments, Jonny Flynn wasn’t one of them.